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Government warns GPs over antibiotic prescribing

By Gareth Iacobucci

GP prescribing of antibiotics is set to come under new scrutiny in a Government campaign to remind clinicians and the public that antibiotics do not help to treat viral infections such as cough's, colds and sore throats.

Advertisements and posters aimed at patients and GPs will appear in newspapers and magazines, with the intention of reducing unnecessary requests for antibiotics from patients.

The campaign – unveiled by chief medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson today – is part of the Government's strategy to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, which experts predict could make treatment for common bacterial infections such as pneumonia much more difficult in the future.

It follows a recent analysis – reported by Pulse - which showed that the levels of GP prescribing of high-risk antibiotics can be reduced by targeted primary care interventions.

Chief Medical Officer for England, Sir Liam Donaldson said: ‘Antibiotics don't work on colds, most coughs or sore throats or even the flu. Using antibiotics when they are not necessary will increase resistance to them and make it difficult to treat serious bacterial infections in the future.

He told patients: ‘If you are suffering with cold and flu symptoms or a sore throat you should rest, take plenty of fluids and speak to your pharmacist who will advise you on over the counter remedies that are available.'

Latest data from the Health Protection Agency shows that resistance to the antibiotic most often used to treat E.Coli increased by 10% between 2001 and 2007.

From April 1, GPs will also face a crackdown on inappropriate use of antibiotics and inspections of their infection control procedures from the new Care Quality Commission.

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